Have you heard of Huelva? It is part of Spain’s most southern region, near the border with Portugal. “It’s the forgotten city of Andalusia but that’s about to change,” says Nicola Erlich from Spain-Holiday.com. “Huelva has been named as Spain’s Gastronomic Capital in 2017.”
I had not heard of this city of 150,000 people, an hour’s drive west of Seville. Nicola didn’t think that my lack of knowledge was unusual. “The Spanish go there because it has a beautiful coastline but you don’t necessarily get hoards of British tourists, which I think is a good thing,” she said.
Even though few UK visitors base themselves in Huelva, it is an old city with an historic claim to fame. “It was the port where Christopher Columbus set sail to discover America,” says Nicola. The 525th anniversary of that voyage takes place in 2017. “In September there will be celebrations to mark the event,” she adds.
Next year, most activity will focus on the food. “Food is prepared quite simply in Huelva. Most of it is on the grill with olive oil, a bit of parsley and garlic. It has a lovely fresh taste.” I was interested in the city’s reputation for seafood. “There’s lots of seafood and shellfish, especially clams and fried cuttlefish which is like squid. The prawns are really nice too,” Nicola enthuses. “They are white, massive and amazingly tasty. There are a dozen different varieties.”
The region is also famous for its cured Serrano ham, which originates from the nearby small town of Jabugo, where many of the pigs are reared. “It’s worth taking a day trip,” Nicola suggests.
Outside the main city there’s lots of outdoor and adventure tourism. Kite surfing is very popular in the summer and the nearby Donana Park is a nature reserve. “There are a lot of marshes and dunes along the flat coastline and there are inlets that create sandbars and islands, although you don’t need a boat to get there. That’s where the nice beaches are, such as Isla Canela.”
If you fancy a foodie break in Huelva then fly to Faro, just across the border in Portugal. That airport is about 45 minutes drive away. Otherwise, you can drive from Seville. There’s more information on spain–holiday.com.